Where Can You Shower for Free When on the Road? 

    A road trip is the quintessential American vacation, alluring to people of all ages and walks of life. Whether you’re a free spirit who travels as often as you can or somebody who saves up their time off for a yearly adventure, the open road is calling. But as amazing as the adventure will be, the fact is that being on the road is very different from our day-to-day lives. After all, we can’t bring our bathrooms from home with us. This leads many people to wonder: ‘Where can I shower for free on a road trip?’ 

    This article explores where you can shower on road trips for free, leaving more money for adventures. For personalized advice, contact our team at Go Camping America today.

    Where Can You Shower for Free When on the Road

    Keeping Clean On the Road

    Are you taking the family on the road for the ultimate in hands-on education? Maybe you’ve finished college and want to explore before venturing out into the working world. Or perhaps you’ve retired and now have the chance to hit that dusty trail! Whatever your plans, two things are for sure: 1. You’ll have a great time. And 2. You’ll need to find places along the way to keep yourself clean. 

    Where Can You Shower for Free? 

    As an adventurer, you know that planning is crucial. By planning your trip and pinpointing where you can shower for free, you can save yourself time, stress, and money. So, let’s get saving and showering!

    1. Truck Stops and Travel Centers

    Most truck stops and travel centers, especially large ones, have showers and bathroom facilities for people on the road. When it comes to truck stops, some are restricted to truck drivers only, while others are open to anybody, so it pays to research the specific truck stops in the areas you’ll be traveling through. 

    A truck stop or travel center shower typically costs around $12 to $15, but again, this depends on the specific truck stop. While they’re not free, they’re normally the cheapest option for the amount of amenities you’ll receive— they’re kept clean, are generally renovated and comfortable, have plenty of soap available, and many also offer perks like hairdryers and fresh towels. When you’re looking for just a dash of luxury for a reasonable price, these places are the top choice!

    2. State Parks, Regional Parks, and Campsites

    Whether you’re staying in a state park or campsite or are just traveling through the area, you may be able to find amenities including showers on the grounds. Every state has parks, and outside of major cities, nearly every county has at least one campsite (or one nearby). Whether you’re hiking through the Pacific Northwest or leaf peeping in New England, you’ll be able to refresh yourself as close to nature as possible!

    Generally, parks allow campers to use the facilities during their stay. However, some are also open to visitors (though typically for a small fee). You will usually need to bring some coins for hot water, but if you’re brave (or it’s a blazing hot summer’s day), cold water could do! However, shower facilities at parks are usually open between specific hours, so it’s important to check these before you head in to freshen up.

    3. Public Beach Amenities

    No, we don’t mean in the ocean! Public beaches typically have bathroom amenities, including showers and changing rooms for people swimming there. This means you can use that all-important soap, unlike in the ocean! You may also find these free amenities at lakes and rivers. Depending on the facilities available, some may have private shower stalls with doors, while others are open, so make sure you take your bathing suit to wear while you shower. 

    As these are public facilities, the great news is that they’re free! The not-so-great news is that you’re limited to cold water. That may not be so much of an issue in Texas in July, but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re traveling through Vermont at the tail end of the year. In situations like those, you may be able to use public facilities, but you’ll typically have to pay an entrance fee. 

    4. Gyms

    This is another one that technically isn’t free, but if you use gyms to shower often enough, you can generally offset the small fee. Many roadtrippers have memberships at gym chains for this specific reason, whether or not they actually make use of the gym equipment! 

    Most gym chains offer access to their locations nationwide, so as long as there are some along your route, you could exclusively use these as your showering facilities on the road. Membership prices vary between gyms, but some can be as low as $30 a month— if you shower at your chosen franchise’s locations once a day for a month, that’s only $1 per shower! Keep in mind, though, that usually towels aren’t included, so make sure you take your own.

    5. Friends’ Houses

    Has there ever been a better time to message your old friends on social media and arrange to catch up? We didn’t think so! While we don’t recommend taking advantage of anybody’s hospitality, turning to the friends you already have along your route can offer a long-overdue hangout as well as a place to shower (provided you ask first, of course). 

    If you don’t know anybody where you’ll be going, don’t worry. There are specific sites, such as those for couchsurfing, designed to help people find a cozy home to sleep (and shower) in for a night or two. While the original intention is to find a couch or bed,  many people offering their homes for this purpose will generally let you shower there as well.

    6. The Soap and Bucket Method

    If worse comes to worst, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional method of using soapy water and a bucket to bathe! Just ensure it’s biodegradable soap, especially if you’re using it in a body of water like a lake or river. Baby wipes are also doable for a quick mini cleanup between proper showers if you’re in a real pinch.

    7. BYO Portable Shower

    Portable showers have become more accessible and cheaper over the years, so as long as you find the sun needed to warm up the water, you can bring your shower with you! Again, make sure you use biodegradable soap for the sake of our beautiful environment. And wherever you set it up, ensure you have privacy— look for secluded areas (that you’re permitted to be in) and use towels or car doors to shield yourself.


    Get Your Clean Camping On 

    Now that you know all the options for keeping clean on a road trip, there’s nothing stopping you from jumping in the driver’s seat and taking off! Whether you’re pinching as many pennies as possible or don’t mind paying a couple of bucks here and there, it will surely be a much cheaper trip than staying in hotels and motels. Plus, the adventure of it all just adds to the fun! Wherever and whenever you’re planning to go, the adventure starts here.